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The Koreans' faible for MMORPG 
11th-Dec-2005 11:40 am
I just read a news article about a Korean man of my age who died after playing an online game on the computer for over 10 days without pause.

It seems Koreans are the world's most fanatic online gamers. MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) seem to be extremely popular and many young or even not-so-young people are already addicted. I was asking myself again: Why is that? I'm not against playing on the computer for recreation, but it can become sinful very quickly, depending on the content of the game and the amount of time you spent (waste) with it. Why are Koreans who consider themselves to be the frontline of Christianity so obsessed with playing online games?

Also, I have another question. Since the Koreans seem to be so uniform with an extremely high population density I can understand they always dream of doing something extraordinary and becoming great and outstanding people (one of the hidden motivations of Korean UBF missionaries and the reason why it is so attractive). But I read an article (see below) saying they like to play games where they are again only an insignificant ant in a vast group with a strict hierarchy. What's so attractive about that?

Another thought I had was that UBF is also a kind of "virtual" universe. They don't care what UBF really is, but they imagine something like "God's ministry for this generation" and they dream up many legends about their leaders and their past (and future) which do not fit reality. Reality does not count for them, they avoid reality checks. If a leader says something, it is taken as a fact and never checked, even if it is contradictory in itself. All that counts is what they believe to be true, not what is really true. So the whole UBF is a big illusion, just like a MMORPG.

Here is the article I was referring to:

Some interesting quotes:
"Games of this type require extensive social interaction. However, Lineage differs from its U.S. counter parts. It has Confucian characteristics in that when you create your in-game character he/she has an unchangeable hierarchy and rank. Korean players have no difficulty accepting being a servant or follower, whereas the majority of American MMORPG players want to be the hero."

"To international gamers South Korea has become something of a Mecca."

"Crimes such as hacking others’ accounts, stealing online ids and the fraudulent sale of online weapons are so commonplace that the police have started a cybercrimes unit. It appears that in online gaming, crime as well as in simple socializing transcends the virtual into the real world.

Online gaming is South Korea is a unique phenomenon. No other place is the world is so wired, or has such a large game-playing population base, or treats their best gamers as star athletes. The dramatic rise in gaming has brought increased economic opportunities to the country and international notoriety. The culture of game playing has had a negative effect on some South Koreans, however, as gaming addicts lose touch with the real world. The net effect of this rapid growth in gaming and internet usage will be positive or negative remains to be seen."
11th-Dec-2005 02:19 pm (UTC)
Somewhere out there, Tony Lang is reading this and squirming.
11th-Dec-2005 04:05 pm (UTC)
Do you mean because I wrote something negative about Koreans? Just to make sure: I don't have anything against Koreans. Germans are not "better" than Koreans. But every nationality has their special mentality, quirks, weaknesses and strengths due to culture and history. I am simply trying to understand the Korean mentality a little better. This will also help me understand the dynamics in UBF a little better.

I did not write these things to bash Koreans. I just became aware of this by reading the news and found it somehow amazing and worth mentioning. Of course there are also many virtues of Koreans like sedulousness and pertinacity. This also helps to understand UBF, where these virtues are abused and exploited.
11th-Dec-2005 04:12 pm (UTC)
I just liked the thought that Tony might be squirming. Another thing I don't miss about the Voy forum.
11th-Dec-2005 02:28 pm (UTC)
Here is the Korean article about the man who played until he died. It says he slept only 2-3 hours a day and ate only Ramyon (instant noodles). Probably very similar to the life of Korean UBF Missionary candidates when they get "mission training" (i.e. writing sogams until they have proven to be completely UBFish).


By the way: Have a look at the picture. Is this Korean "humor"?
11th-Dec-2005 04:10 pm (UTC)
These MMORPG-addicted people exist in the US and Europe also, but again, Koreans seem to have taken the lead in taking something to an extreme. These virtual world-addicted people are making a prophet of William Gibson who envisioned "cyberspace cowboys" who spent so much time in the virtual world and neglected what they call "the meat," their own physical bodies.
12th-Dec-2005 09:00 am (UTC)
I myself participate in one MMORPG, and I would like to state that there are many reasons for doing so:

- being "The Best"
- being "The most famous"
- being "The Richest"
- being a notorious killer
- having some fancy virtual possession (you would be shocked to hear that theres people who get Real Life problems if they are somehow stripped of their virtual possessions)
- earning REAL MONEY (check out Ebay: http://tinyurl.com/ajrsp ) - I, for myself, had, when I was still student, had the luck of TWICE in a month finding a virtual possession I could sell for 1000DM - equals $500!)
In China, there's a real economy going on because of online gaming. There's companies hiring young people to game, one company with about 50-100 employees, and everything they find goes to EBay. This "business" has an estimated 100,000 jobs in mainland China alone!

But also:
- social contacts
- social interaction
- new friends
- entertainment
- recreation

I, for myself, prefer the latter category.
Being in the lead of a virtual player community (alliance), I have learned a LOT about social competence, diplomacy, different preferences and settling conflicts.
As opposed to Real Life, where someone could always get back at me, I find it sad but not bad to lose some friends in the virtual community. In RL, I would find it detrimential. As such, I can "experiment" a bit to improve my character (not the virtual avatar), knowing that the repercussions of my actions are limited.

Many online gamers forget that they are interacting with other human beings over the interface "MMORPG", but I have found a lot of people who are just normal parents, who spend that hour or two in the evening just like other people go bowling or whatnot. For them, the game is a platform to meet a gazillion new and different people without ever leaving home. Just like a chat with other interactive possibilities.

Then, there's the extreme, the "Progamers", or "addicts". 12-14 hours a day are the norm. I fail to fully comprehend what drives them to immerse themselves in a virtual world like this. My brother is one of them. You can hardly speak with him for over a minute without the topic "Online games" being brought up. Whenever I meet him, I get informed about his latest accomplishments etc - so I find it very difficult to converse with him.

To some, the virtual world has become a replacement of reality, but they are a minority. The media, however, like to paint them as "the norm".
Reality is, the majority are just people like you and me who have a virtual hobby which nets them the same kind of gratification that others get from fishing or camping.
12th-Dec-2005 04:09 pm (UTC)
That's interesting. So MMORPGs are also somewhat popuar here in Germany. However, the question is, how many people use it for recreation, in moderate dosis, and in order to draw some positive effects from it as you explained, and how many use it excessively and with problematic motivation (escaping from real life, enjoying "player killing" etc.). Just like alcohol, it is possible to get hooked very quickly particularly if your real life is not so successful. And you can surely get into a vicious circle: You escape real life because you have some problems, but the problems are getting bigger when you don't care, this again drives you into playing more etc.

So I believe you that it is possible to use it wisely and moderately, just as it is possible to use alcohol wisely and moderately. But it may have the same hidden dangers, and not everybody can cope with it as you can (see the example of your brother).

It would be good to have some statistical numbers: How large is the percentage of population who is playing MMORPGs, and how large is the percentage of those who do it excessively? And, also important, which kind of MMORPG is most popular? The article said that Koreans like games with a strict, unchangeable hierarchy. Also, I heared that in many games you can chose between "good" characters and "bad" characters ("the dark side"). How large is the percentage playing on the bad side and what is their motivation?

Anyway it seems that Koreans (Asians) are pretty obsessed with it. China is a new booming market for these games. I read that on player even killed another in real life with a Samurai sword because he had stolen him something in an online game. That's pretty weird. I think it is already weird that people pay money for virtual weapons etc. (as you explained).
13th-Dec-2005 01:17 am (UTC)
That picture should be familar to all of us. We had that look the night before sharing a life testimony or conference message.
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